Timestamp: Torchwood Series Four Summary

Torchwood: Miracle Day (Series Four) Summary

Timestamp Torchwood Miracle Day Logo

Torchwood‘s fourth series was a train wreck.

The concept was pretty interesting – a supernatural event that eliminates death, driven by shadow elements and political conspiracies, and an exploration of how it affects the world – but the execution cut the concept’s hamstrings.

One thread that ran throughout the discussions of these episodes was padding (or bloating). The series lacks a sense of forward motion, even in moments of action, which is something that the BBC knew how to do while balancing the drama that we’re used to in this property. Torchwood can be slow, but even those slow moments in previous series kept the audience ready for more. Miracle Day felt like it was chained to the deck.

Another thread that wove throughout the series centered on disturbing tropes. The first episode contains the Black Dude Dies First trope – which also extends in poorly-written media to pretty much any minority because of outdated assumptions that audiences wanted/needed white straight male protagonists to win the day – and only subverts it because of the Miracle. Then Rex experiences another terrible trope twice as the series progresses: Stuffed into the Fridge.

I pointed this out in The Blood Line, but it bears some further exploration in a series-wide analysis. Two major character deaths served to motivate Rex in the ten-episode arc. First was Vera Juarez in The Categories of Life, and while her death wasn’t motivated in universe as a strike against Rex – she was murdered by the manager of a death camp to keep things quiet – it did serve narratively as a motivator because Rex was present and filming as she was burned alive.

The second was far more obvious. Esther’s death in The Blood Line was purely intended to drive Rex’s actions, and it transformed her from a character that was timid and unsure at the start of the series to a bold woman who saved Jack’s magic blood and told Rex that she was (in no uncertain terms) accompanying him to the Blessing.

In The Blood Line‘s analysis, I stated that the wrong agent had died and suggested that Esther should have lived while Rex died. I said that with full understanding of the Black Dude Dies First trope, and my thought process regarding it is pretty clear: Miracle Day tried that trope and subverted it, and then the writers spent nine more episodes building Esther while keeping Rex exactly where he was at the start. I didn’t want Rex to die because he’s a minority, but rather because he wasn’t developed in the course of the story. If he had grown, that analysis would be different, but the writers chose to transform Esther into an object after investing so heavily into her as a character. They undid all of that good will with a single narrative choice.

And in a series of episodes like this, the writers and producers needed to preserve as much good will as possible.

Enough soap-boxing: It’s time to look at the numbers. We’ve been through this thrice now, so we’re familiar with the drill: We can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who, but we can look at the scores so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series Four earned a 3.1 average. That’s way down in last place among Torchwood, and is equivalent to the classic Third, Nineteenth, and Twenty-First seasons. Out of thirty-three seasons of Doctor Who so far in the Timestamps Project, that’s a three-way tie for 28th place.

The New World – 5
Rendition – 4
Dead of Night – 4
Escape to L.A. – 2
The Categories of Life – 4
The Middle Men – 3
Immortal Sins – 3
End of the Road – 3
The Gathering – 2
The Blood Line – 2
Web of Lies – 2

Torchwood Series Four Average Rating: 3.1/5


Thus ends Torchwood. It’s the first of the spinoff series to end, so it’s the first opportunity to provide a whole series rating. Keep in mind that if Torchwood should return to screens, then this will change.

Series 1 – 3.8
Series 2 – 4.0
Children of Earth – 4.8
Miracle Day – 3.1

Torchwood Weighted Average Rating: 3.79/4.00

Would I recommend Torchwood as something to watch in the Doctor Who mythos? Absolutely, but the obvious caveat is that Miracle Day does not hold up to the series. As we’ve seen, it’s also darker, gritter, and far more adult than anything else in the overall franchise, so if the light and hopeful of the main series is more your style, this might be best avoided.


The Timestamps Project is proceeding in mostly chronological order. As such, the next block of episodes will cover what remains of Doctor Who‘s sixth series. After that, the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures is on the docket before a straight shot through the seventh, eighth, and ninth series of Doctor Who takes us well into next year.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited
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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW42: Web of Lies

Torchwood: Web of Lies
(Motion Comic Special, 2011)

Timestamp TW42 Web of Lies

Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Missing Day – 2007: The setting is Cardiff as Jack and Gwen chase a shadowy figure across the rooftops of the city. Gwen loses site of Jack for a moment, after which all that remains is a green gas. Jack is missing.

Miracle Day – 2011: In Los Angeles, Miles Mokri breaks a promise to his sister Holly that they’d celebrate her cancer remission. As Holly goes to a club without him, Miles is nearly abducted. He escapes, but ends up getting shot. When Holly leaves the club, she finds his abandoned cell phone and the paramedics. Luckily for the Mokris, the Miracle has begun. No one dies.

Miles had started to write about a conspiracy surrounding Miracle Day. Oddly, he started it one week ago.

Missing Day – 2007: Gwen storms into a nearby convenience store and plugs her computer into the power outlet. She starts tracking Jack and notes that he is moving incredibly fast around the world.

Miracle Day – 2011: The hospital is chaos. They need more room for all of the non-dying people, so Miles is sent home. Holly starts looking into the footage on her brother’s phone and discovers that there were three gunshots but only two wounds. She figures out that Miles knew his shooter, finds a mysterious phone number hidden in a sudoku puzzle, and makes arrangements to meet the shooter at the Ambassador Hotel High School.

Surrounded by the Soulless, Holly and Nick (Miles’s best friend) discuss how death is not the worst part of dying. Rather, that the pain and suffering before it far outweighs it. They are met at gunpoint my the mysterious shooter and taken to a nearby van. It turns out that the man is Joe Bradley, an FBI agent who was working with Miles after he presented evidence that the Miracle was being planned.

Agent Bradley didn’t shoot Miles, but instead caught him when he fell.

Missing Day – 2007: Gwen tracks Jack’s flight over Russia. As she pursues him, Jack wakes up to the muzzle of a gun. Jack quips about whether the gunman is trying to either intimidate or seduce him. The gunman takes aim, casting aside concerns that the bullets would puncture the hull because he’s working with practice range rounds. They won’t leave Jack’s body after he’s shot.

Miracle Day – 2011: Holly, Joe, and Nick are chased down by the men who tried to abduct Miles. During the ensuing car chase, Holly hacks Miles’s laptop and discovers information implicating Phi-Corp in the Miracle.

Missing Day – 2007: The kidnapper witnesses Jack’s resurrection in amazement, then decides to see just how much punishment Jack can take. He pushes Jack out of the plane, watching him fall 30,000 feet the the ground in Chernobyl. After recovering what parts of Jack’s body could be found, the kidnapper is impressed that Jack can survive pretty much anything.

Miracle Day – 2011: Holly finds out that Miles’s computer has an anti-hacking feature that allows access for only 15 seconds at a time. After three attempts, the hard drive will self-destruct. She finds information on Phi-Corp, documents about a flight form the United States to Kiev, an “Iron Wheel”, and satellite photos and plans for medical overflow camps and industrial ovens.

She also finds four photographs with coded letters for each person: S is Jack, complete with the word Torchwood on his photo; R is a red haired woman; Z is Jack’s kidnapper; and M is an executive in a suit. Another coded message from reveals that “Only S can die” and that the secret to the Miracle can be found on Coney Island.

On the way to Coney Island, Holly realizes that the third “gunshot” might have been a flash from a speed camera. Checking the footage, Holly finds that Nick himself fired the shots from a moving car.

Missing Day – 2007: At Chernobyl, Jack’s kidnapper has been taking X-ray images with an old MRI machine. He sees that Jack retains the shrapnel from each death but doesn’t suffer any pain from the remnants.

Miracle Day – 2011: The team arrives at Coney Island. After restoring power to the park, Holly reveals to Joe that she knows that Nick is the real shooter. Nick reveals that he has backup and Joe’s sidearm.

Missing Day – 2007: Gwen tracks Jack to Chernobyl but the kidnapper gets the upper hand with the MRI magnets and disarms Gwen. Jack reaches for an abandoned scalpel to free himself.

Miracle Day – 2011: Nick reveals that Miles had the key to the Miracle and Nick shot him so that Holly would solve the case. Nick also tells her that the Miracle has cured cancer, but stopping it might kill her. An automatic message from Miles to Holly reveals that the Miracle “begun under Vatican control.” She solves the clue about the “iron wheel” and leads everyone to the nearby Ferris wheel. As they ride it, Holly realizes that the map points to a specific location in the amusement park. She eventually escapes and follows the clues to a giant vat of blood. Nick catches up to her and explains that the blood belongs to an immortal man, one that is the only mortal being in the era of the Miracle.

Missing Day – 2007: Gwen is thrown into a van filled with packs of Jack’s blood. The kidnapper returns to stop Jack from reaching the scalpel, but Jack turns the tables by reaching the MRI switch. The magnet tears all of the shrapnel from Jack’s body and fires them through the kidnapper, killing the man.

Miracle Day – 2011: Holly decodes Miles’s “Vatican” clue, finding a gun under the vat. Holly shoots the bad guys, then reveals that Miles couldn’t make the choice to destroy the key or not. He left a laptop computer linked to the vat’s destruct mechanism, and Holly makes a tough choice. Even though it may kill Miles and her cancer may return, she needs to destroy the blood. Nick tries to stop her, but she shoots him one more time and he dies in the explosion.

Missing Day – 2007: Gwen frees Jack, but as she does, the mysterious green gas returns. Jack says that they must try and remember what happened here, but Gwen says whatever happens they’ll deal with it together. As they finally succumb to the gas, three men arrive to take them and the blood in the truck away. Back on the rooftop in Cardiff, Jack states that he feels like they’ve forgotten something very important. In a voice-over, Gwen reveals that they never did remember what happened on that “Missing Day”.

Miracle Day – 2011: In the aftermath of the Miracle’s end, Holly pours a glass of wine for Miles. Holly says that as the Miracle gave him time to heal, she felt like it was about time. As they banter back and forth, a pack of blood can be spotted at the back of the fridge. Could it belong to Jack?


We find out some interesting bits here, including that the Three Families had access to Retcon in 2007 (correlating to the time between Series One and Series Two). This series also suggests that other people may have been able to piece together the plan, but only when they brought it public did the Three Families move to silence them.

Other than that, this was an average side story with little to no consequence for Torchwood or Miracle Day overall. The only big thing would be that pack of Jack’s blood, and depending on Holly’s skills, that would last either 42 days or up to ten years if properly treated and frozen.

Regardless, it was good to see (or rather, hear) Eliza Dushku again. I’ve been a fan since her BuI’d like to see her in Doctor Who at some point.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: Miracle Day (Series Four) Summary

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW41: The Blood Line

Torchwood: The Blood Line
(1 episode, s04e10, 2011)

Timestamp TW41 The Blood Line

Everything changes… back.

Gwen stares out the window and relates a story about the day that her father was accused of thievery. Young Gwen offered to help pay back the money, but her dad taught her a lesson about impressions and honesty. He couldn’t stand being known as a dishonest man when he wasn’t. Gwen saw him as the nicest man in the world.

Today is the day that she kills him.

The two Torchwood teams prepare for the coming confrontation. Rex and Esther contact Director Shapiro for CIA assistance while keeping Jack, Gwen, and Oswald’s presence in Shanghai a secret. Unfortunately, that includes Charlotte, the mole in the agency. Meanwhile, The Mother plans to bomb the sites of The Blessing to keep it safe.

In Shanghai, Gwen locates the site but retreats to contact Jack when she gets whammied by the emotions surrounding it. Before they rendezvous with Gwen, Jack and Oswald have a heart-to-heart. Gwen takes a moment to call Rhys, who is working with Andy Davidson to gain access to the Cowbridge Overflow Camp so he can say a proper goodbye to Gwen’s father.

Across the planet, the CIA coordinates with the Argentinian army. Captain Federico Santos arrives with a detachment of soldiers, but a Three Families agent inside the detachment bombs the truck. The soldiers are all Category 1, the supply of Jack’s blood is destroyed, and Rex and Esther are presumed dead. Director Shapiro demands that they find the CIA mole immediately. Charlotte sets a bomb and leaves just as the trace is completed. The bomb makes everyone in the command center Category 1.

The two teams infiltrate their respective sites. Oswald objects to leaving a trail of Category 1 bodies and Gwen gets notification that Rhys has arrived at her father’s side. He only has ten minutes before the Category 1s are taken to the ovens. As Rhys comforts Gwen’s father, Andy comforts an unknown 15-year-old girl.

Jack, Gwen, and Oswald descend to the Blessing and are met by Jilly, The Mother, and three armed guards. Unfortunately for them, Jack has rigged Oswald with a suicide vest. Unfortunately for Torchwood, Rex and Esther have been captured and are being held at gunpoint by the Three Families. The standoff is stalemated when Jack presents his blood to the Blessing. He warns The Mother to be very, very careful with him.

Oswald, exposed to his very soul before the Blessing, almost loses himself in the reflection of his sin. Jack brings him back before he and Gwen muse about the origins of the Blessing. Jack muses about the Doctor, Silurians, the Racnoss, and huon energy before admitting that he has no idea where it came from. It projects a morphic field in symbiosis with the human race, but the Families fed Jack’s blood to the anomaly. The Blessing transformed the blood’s pattern into a gift for all humankind and the Families took advantage of the worldwide disruption in a form of eugenics.

In order to secure the plan, the Families drew Jack out of hiding and attempted to kill him. Jack threatens to bleed into it and reset the planet’s mortality, but the Families remind him that it has to be introduced from both sides simultaneously. As the standoff intensifies, Rex reveals that Esther transfused Jack’s blood into him. The destroyed blood was a ruse.

To stop the salvation of the world, the Families mortally wound Esther. As Rex descends into sorrow, Gwen talks him back off the ledge. Together, Rex and Jack drain themselves into the Blessing.

Death returns to the world in a single breath as every Category 1 says goodbye.

Both ends of the Blessing begin to tear themselves apart. Jack returns to life as his immortality is restored while Oswald and Rex eliminate the Families representatives and Gwen knocks Jilly out. Rex and Esther, both on the edge of death, are retrieved by Captain Santos. Jilly disappears into the explosion at Shanghai.

Several months later, Jilly is found by her contact in the Families and offered a place to restart her life in charge of Plan B. Elsewhere, the Torchwood team joins Charlotte and Rex at Esther’s funeral. Charlotte offers her condolences to Rex before leaving. Rex gets an update about the trace program that Shapiro was running and finds out that Charlotte was the mole. She shoots Rex and is gunned down by the other agents in attendance. Rex is declared dead.

And then comes back to life. His wounds, including the Miracle Day wound, all heal. He is now immortal.

Everyone is surprised, but none more so than Rex.


The production team killed the wrong person.

No, seriously. In terms of character growth over the ten episodes of Miracle Day, Esther moved leaps and bounds over Rex. By killing her off, they not only wasted that character development, they also committed the narrative sin of fridging her in order to motivate Rex.

That trope originates from the comics, specifically Green Lantern. In that story, the villain Major Force left the corpse of then-Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, literally stuffed into a refrigerator. The idea is to spur the hero into action by brutalizing someone that they care about. It was later named and shamed by comic book writer Gail Simone.

In this case, Esther was fridged in order to motivate Rex. It’s lazy writing that immediately devalues Esther as a character. No matter what happened with her to this point, her final intrinsic narrative value is a plot device to motivate a stereotypical action hero.

It’s also sad, because the story and characters could have been better served. Keep Rex as the vessel for Jack’s blood, an idea that came from Esther to begin with, and transfer the Gwen-shooting-Jack action to Esther instead. Let Rex die for the world and Esther come out with a completed growth arc that we watched happen over ten episodes of television. She could also end up with immortality, for all the good that it does Torchwood after this point, as a reward of sorts.

Other than that rather large elephant in the room, the finale was entertaining enough, if not a bit bloated (as was the rest of the Miracle Day season). The return of death to the world was emotionally stirring. Oswald was finally useful.

The cliffhanger itself is rather disappointing in the end given that this marks the end of Torchwood on television. In fact, Rex Matheson hasn’t appeared on television again to date. He’s been in two novels, one of which is a prequel, and an audio drama, but his parts in the post-Miracle Day universe appear to be sparse.

How disappointing.

It should have been Esther who survived the Miracle.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: Web of Lies

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW40: The Gathering

Torchwood: The Gathering
(1 episode, s04e09, 2011)

Timestamp TW40 The Gathering

Two months later…

Really? Two months? With a critically wounded Jack, a world full of overflow “death” camps, and a planetary economic crash?

Times are tough enough that Gwen smashes a car into a local pharmacy, sparing enough time for a stranger to steal a couple of boxes of pills. She and Rhys have been using the stolen supplies to help their loved ones and neighbors. After all, her father is bed-ridden and in constant pain. Gwen and Rhys are able to spend the time getting closer again.

In St. Margaret’s Halt, Scotland, Esther has been tending to Jack’s gunshot wound. Esther is worried about evading local skeptics, but Jack is more concerned about Esther stored bags of his blood in the fridge. Either way, Esther has hardened a bit in the meantime.

CIA Headquarters brings us Rex and his team working hard to track down the Three Families under Allen Shapiro’s leadership. Rex finds a tale about a man who could not die, and that tale leads the team to a knife stored in the archives. The hope is that the blood on the blade can lead to family roots. Charlotte Wills, the Three Families mole in the agency, takes the lead and comes up dry, so Rex takes it on himself.

The Three Families invite Jilly Kitzinger, under an alias, to Shanghai on a one-way ticket. She’s being asked to observe the Blessing. Across the pond, the authorities search Gwen’s house on the hunt for her father. Gwen claims that he’s been cremated, and while the police don’t believe her, they don’t find a thing thanks to a hidden room in the basement.

Worse than that, however, is Oswald Danes sneaking into the house under the guise of a delivery man. He’s in search of information about Jack Harkness, but when he picks up Anwen, Gwen takes a saucepan to his face. Rhys steps in as well before Oswald reveals that he knows that Gwen helped hide Jack and Esther. He’s willing to exchange the name of the man who created the Miracle.

Gwen covertly summons Jack and together they Retcon the spy across the street before confronting Oswald. The Torchwood team is reunited. Oswald presents Jilly’s laptop, which he has been using to track her. He knew something was up when she totally disappeared from the grid, but he did keep seeing the name Harry Bosco. Esther tells him that “Harry Bosco” is a process that mistranslated the truth to hide it through simple obfuscation. She calls in Rex in an attempt to decrypt Jilly’s work, which is to write history in the favor of the Families.

With the help of Oswald and Rhys, the team tracks the Blessing to Shanghai and Buenos Aires, the latter of which correlates to the possible location of a man who was in the butcher’s cellar in 1928 when Jack was repeatedly killed. The discussion comes to a screeching halt as the police crash through the door in search of Gwen’s father. They find him using thermal imaging. His abduction adds more fuel to Gwen’s passion to find the Families.

Rex informs Shapiro that he has to go off-book to find the Families himself because he suspects there is a mole in the CIA. Meanwhile, Rhys discovers that Shanghai and Buenos Aires are antipodes, cities on exact opposite sides of the world. They’re also the very inspiration for the PhiCorp logo.

The team splits up: Esther, with her stockpile of Jack’s blood, travels to Buenos Aires and meets up with Rex while Gwen, Jack, and Oswald travel to Shanghai using old Torchwood liaisons. It’s in Shanghai where a new connection is discovered as Jack’s blood draws out of his gunshot wound and into the ground, thereby implying a connection between him and the Blessing.

Meanwhile, Jilly is introduced to the Mother. It’s time for her to meet the Three Families and, deep underground, the Blessing itself.


You know that pithy office saying about the meeting that could have been an email?

That’s this episode. I’ve mentioned before that this entire story could have been compressed by about thirty percent without losing any cohesion or substance. This episode embodies that philosophy with only a few big story movements coming among a lot of filler.

There are positives, such as Oswald finally getting something to do. The emotions invoked were also hard hitting, from Rex and Shapiro’s discussion about shadow dictatorships – literally every conspiracy theorist’s wet dream come true – to the chilling sadness as Gwen’s father (abducted?) by the “just following orders” police inspector.

But that’s just not enough to compensate for an episode makes ten minutes of mileage in a fifty-five minute runtime. Jack’s tired of a mortal life that hurts so much, and I’m tired of writing and pacing that hurts to watch.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Night Terrors

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW39: End of the Road

Torchwood: End of the Road
(1 episode, s04e08, 2011)

Timestamp TW39 End of the Road

We finally start unraveling the twisted web.

After the showdown, Olivia takes the Torchwood team to Nevada. Esther remains outside while Jack, Gwen, and Rex are taken to meet Angelo Colasanto, Olivia’s grandfather. Angelo has devoted his entire life in pursuit of immortality but is now aged, infirm, bed-ridden, and connected to an array of life support machines.

The three men who met Jack when he was being butchered in New York represented three different families who are in some way responsible for Miracle Day: Frines, Costerdane, and Ablemarch. They swore to purchase the power of resurrection and collected Jack’s blood from the butcher, and they know of the Blessing. They also are completely off the grid.

Outside of the Colasanto estate, the stock markets are in free-fall, driving world players into bankruptcy. Brian Friedkin arrives and storms the residence with a CIA team to arrest the Torchwood team. Friedkin takes Rex to the other room and threatens his life, but he’s stopped by Rex when the Eye-5s transmit Friedkin’s confession that he is employed by the Three Families. CIA superior Allen Shapiro arrives and arrests Friedkin before getting the story from Rex.

Shapiro antagonizes the team, but Jack finally sways him by allying Torchwood with the CIA. Meanwhile, Friedkin and Olivia are loaded into an SUV to be taken to a safehouse, but the trip is cut short when Friedkin detonates a bomb he was wearing and kills everyone in the vehicle.

Jack takes a personal moment to say a few tender words to Angelo. At the end, he removes Angelo’s oxygen mask and kisses him, but the act kills Angelo. Literally kills him. Upon closer examination, the team discovers a null field generator under Angelo’s bed. The device cancels the morphic fields that caused the Miracle, and since it can disguise weapons of mass destruction, Shapiro tasks Jack with disabling it. It seems that Jack’s hunch about morphic fields was a good instinct.

Since the Torchwood files suggest that Jack operates best when his team is in duress, Shapiro motivates him by deporting Gwen. Meanwhile, Esther calls her sister (who is in psychiatric examination) and finds out that she is volunteering for Category One as a way out of the world.

Oswald Danes has sold out Cowboys Stadium for one of his hellfire-and-brimstone events. His antics are wearing thin with Jilly Kitzinger, especially when he demands that she bring him a prostitute. Jilly is approached by Shawnie Yamaguchi, an intern who is eager to become her assistant. What Jilly doesn’t know is that Shawnie is a CIA operative. Oswald’s prostitute arrives, but she’s frustrated because he wants to treat her like a date instead of a sex worker. When she storms out, she tells Oswald that he’s been classified as Category Zero.

Oswald takes his frustration to Jilly. Category Zero consists of those who violated morality and have thus earned a trip to the ovens. Oswald strikes Jilly and she fights back, forcing him to run with her laptop. Jilly encounters the mysterious PhiCorp man from a previous event. He warns her that she’s being watched, then kills Shawnie. In the end, Jilly is brought under family protection courtesy of a mole in the CIA. That mole is Charlotte Wills.

In the Colasanto estate, Jack manipulates the null field generator to cancel sound. He confers with Esther and Rex, telling them that the technology cannot be allowed to propagate. He needs to leave the manor with the device. Rex and Esther help Jack escape, but Jack is shot in the process. Esther drives the critically wounded Jack away while Rex runs interference.


The Miracle Day story swings back into action as the pieces start to fall into place. We’re driving a little closer to the masterminds behind the crisis and we get a bit more extraterrestrial influence as we see how the Three Families have been pulling the levers all along, but the episode still suffers from pacing issues with a good chunk of padding. As with most of Miracle Day, this episode could have been better told in about 75% of the time.

We did get some good callbacks to the core of Torchwood, from memories of Ianto to the destruction (and subsequent looting) of the Hub, but we can also see the large narrative issue with the Oswald Danes storyline. The story arc started with him as a major genesis event, but his part in all of this has been nothing more than a side story. I don’t like Oswald Danes on principle, but I certainly think he should be more of player in events.

Small perk: We have two Star Trek alumni (Nana Visitor and John de Lancie) in this episode. Sadly, one of those talented actors is wasted in this story.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


As the Timestamps Project proceeds chronologically through 2011, we start to ping-pong a bit between Torchwood and Doctor Who. When Miracle Day (including the Web of Lies addendum) concludes, the project will pick up the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures. To start the whole process, the next adventure will return us to Series 6 of Doctor Who with Let’s Kill Hitler.


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Let’s Kill Hitler

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW38: Immortal Sins

Torchwood: Immortal Sins
(1 episode, s04e07, 2011)

Timestamp TW38 Immortal Sins

It’s time for a history lesson.

Ellis Island, New York, in the 1920s: A man posing as Jack Harkness attempts to scam his way through immigration. He’s stopped by the real deal, but Jack visits him in jail anyways. The thief’s name is Angelo Colasanto and he knows that Jack’s visa was forged. Jack tells Angelo that he is a government agent of sorts. After a chat, Jack forges a visa for Angelo and secures the man’s freedom.

In the modern day, Gwen receives her orders to bring Jack to the antagonists. She is told to keep the lenses in because they are watching. At the makeshift Hub, Esther and Rex talk about Vera’s life. Gwen comes in, calls for Jack, and tasers him at the car before hitting the road.

In 1927, Jack and Angelo find a room for rent. Since it’s just the two of them, Angelo tells the landlord that he’ll sleep on the floor. Once alone, Jack mentions the coming troubles – the Great Depression and World War I – in passing before starting into a relationship. They seem happy together even if Angelo doesn’t understand Jack’s futuristic references.

Modern day: Jack wakes up in the back seat of Gwen’s car. She tells him about her situation but refuses to set him free. Jack asks Gwen to look in the mirror so he can address the antagonists. When he’s finished, Gwen demands to know who Jack has angered this time. She also refuses to yield to his negotiations. The figure behind the contacts agrees: “He always lies.”

In 1927, Jack and Angelo sit in a church and watch a wedding. When a pastor walks by, Jack joins him in the confessional. The pastor is their contact and the men are running liquor during the American Prohibition. They are taken before a crime boss and agree to help him in exchange for their lives. Jack and Angelo are to deliver a box from one warehouse to another, but they are not to look at the contents. Jack tries to drive Angelo away in order to save him, but Angelo wants none of it. Jack is inspired by Angelo’s bravery, comparing it to the relationship between the Doctor and his companions.

During the mission, Jack discovers that the cargo is a parasitic alien. The plan is an attempt by the Trickster’s Brigade to destroy the future. Jack destroys the creature, but is shot dead as they attempt to escape. Angelo is arrested and taken away before Jack resurrects in the alley.

In the present, Gwen muses about her life with Torchwood and how much she loved it. She blames it for landing her in this predicament and warns Jack that she will follow through with the plan if it means getting her daughter back. Jack replies that he will fight until his last breath to keep his newfound mortality. Right at the end, Gwen understands Jack more than she ever has before.

In 1928, Angelo is released from Sing Sing Prison and is startled to find Jack waiting for him. Angelo is terrified at Jack’s immortality, killing Jack and taking him before a butcher. Time and time again, Jack is killed and resurrected by a vicious and fearful mob. At one point, Jack awakens before three men who enter a partnership over this novelty.

Gwen and Jack watch as a car approaches near Mesa, California in the hours before sunrise. They share a few words about the fear of death.

In 1928, Angelo apologizes to Jack as he frees the immortal man. Angelo has no idea who the three men were. He and Jack run from the butcher, climbing to the top of a building so Jack can retrieve his trademark gear. Jack explains his immortality to Angelo, revealing that they cannot be together anymore. Angelo protests so Jack jumps off the roof to his apparent death. When Angelo reaches street level, Jack has vanished.

The sun rises over Mesa and the car arrives. A woman emerges with an armed entourage, but they are interrupted by sniper fire. Rex and Esther found out about the Eye-5 hack and came to the rescue, allowing Jack and Gwen to take up arms and turn the tables. Rex and Esther send a signal to Andy Davidson in Wales, prompting a strike team to free Gwen’s family.

Regardless, Jack is convinced to join the mysterious woman. She can take Jack to the one man with the answers.

Angelo is still alive.


First and foremost, this episode was an infodump. The vast majority of the story was a flashback to introduce a previously unknown character. Unfortunately, the present-day narrative suffered and was only advanced by small steps. The story presented here could have been spread across the previous six episodes, relieving some of the slow and meandering spots and streamlining the overall plot.

That’s the inherent downside to the Timestamps Project approach. The story was touching and the interpersonal relationships were warm, which is exactly what I would expect from a talent like Jane Espenson. It was beautiful to see and would be fantastic as a standalone. But it is presented here as part of the overall Miracle Day narrative and takes its place among other expository episodes.

Aside from the Jack-Angelo relationship, there were some really great elements to keep this episode buoyed up. I loved the brutality of a frightened mob trying to excise the demons in Jack by killing him over and over again. The sniper scene was a great way to include Rex and Esther in a story where they did not prominently feature, and it helped to reinforce their working relationship and skills. I also loved the inclusion of an alien and the broader Doctor Who mythos, which (sadly) were firsts for this block of episodes.

The appearance of Nana Visitor, whom I loved in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was a pleasant surprise. I look forward to seeing more of her in the remaining episodes.

All things considered, a beautiful story balances the unfortunate placement in the overall narrative, bringing this to an average episode overall.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: End of the Road

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW37: The Middle Men

Torchwood: The Middle Men
(1 episode, s04e06, 2011)

Timestamp TW37 The Middle Men

One truth is out, but more mysteries remain.

At PhiCorp Los Angeles, Stuart Owens and his secretary Janet are working late. On the television, the news is talking about the “45 Club,” a group of people who believe that jumping from greater than 45 stories is enough to permanently lose consciousness. Owens calls Zheng Yibao in Shanghai to discuss a large land purchase.

Yibao investigates the facility, then calls Owens back to report that there is nothing of interest at the facility. After that, he takes a swan dive from a tall building for reasons unknown.

In San Pedro, Rex is still upset about what he has discovered. He believes that the powers that be will simply burn anyone they don’t like. In the admin area, Esther tries to call Vera without success. She then turns her attention to Colin Maloney and Ralph Coltrane after watching them fighting. Colin plans to drop Vera’s car at the local mall. He also tells Esther that Vera completed her inspection and left. Finally, he places the camp on lockdown to keep everyone at the facility.

In Cowbridge, Gwen confronts Dr. Alicia Patel about her father’s classification. Patel tries to tell Gwen about the fine line between categories, but Gwen chastises her for running a concentration camp as a medical professional. She then makes plans with Rhys to break her father out.

In Los Angeles, Jack works his magic on Janet in a bar. He reveals (via Torchwood hacking) that Stuart intends to send Janet away against her wishes. He also knows that she is having an affair with her boss. With Janet’s help, Jack tracks Stuart to a local restaurant where he is having dinner with his wife Elizabeth. After revealing the affair to Elizabeth, Jack settles in for a one-on-one discussion with Stuart.

Stuart suggests that he is merely a middle man. He also states that Phicorp is just a pawn. The pattern started around five years ago based on “Market Share Projections”. Stuart found an Italian document which said, “They have found the Blessing,” but he doesn’t know what it means. Since Jack had staged Janet’s abduction, Elizabeth called the police. When they arrive, Jack quickly vanishes.

In San Pedro, Rex tries to sneak his video evidence out of the camp. Unfortunately, he is caught and taken to Colin by request. Rex tells Colin of his intention to go public and expose the camp. Colin watches the video and has a break down, then decides to silence Rex. He slowly pushes his ballpoint pen into Rex’s heart through his open wound. Rex screams but points out that he cannot die, which overwhelms Colin. Once Rex determines that Colin killed Vera, Colin cries as he shoves the pen back into Rex again. Rex faints from the pain.

Esther finds the generator room where the interrogation is taking place. Colin drops the pen and confronts Esther. Esther tries to bluff him by saying that Dr. Juarez is on the phone for him, but he attacks her instead. Esther holds her own for the majority of the altercation, and she eventually chokes him to death. She rushes to help Rex, but she needs to get the keys from Colin’s pocket. The Miracle resurrects Colin. He tries to choke Esther but he’s stopped by Ralph who fires two bullets into Colin’s side.

In Cowbridge, Rhys steals a truck and meets Gwen. As they get her father moved, Gwen hears that sick people are arriving in Wales by boat. Once Gwen’s father is loaded up, Rhys rams the gate to escape the facility. Gwen uses the Eye-5s to contact Jack in California.

Gwen steals some explosives and sets the camp ablaze with a message that makes Jack laugh triumphantly.

“This is the truth for the whole world to see, we let our governments build concentration camps. They built ovens for people in our names. Now I don’t care if the whole of society bends over and takes this like a dog. I’m saying no.”

In San Pedro, Rex comforts Esther. The mission was a success but they’ve paid a heavy price. Rex tells her that the fight is not over, then starts the car and drives them away. When they meet up with Jack in Venice Beach, they find out that the White House stands by the camps as a state of emergency in time of famine or pestilence. Jack says that they need to look at the bigger picture.

Gwen arrives in Los Angeles and is immediately paged to the courtesy phones. She receives a message: “Lenses.” When she puts in the Eye-5s, she learns that the forces behind all of this have taken her mother, husband, and child.

In exchange, they want Jack Harkness.


The overall plot has entered another housekeeping phase with this episode. The overall goal was pretty simple: Get the news of the camps into the public. Even though that revelation is deflected by officials, the world now knows. More importantly, this team has finally adapted the name of Torchwood.

Of course, that cohesive attitude is about to take a hit since Gwen’s family is in jeopardy.

It was a decent enough episode, but despite the explosions and fights, it didn’t do much to move the ball forward.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: Immortal Sins

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW36: The Categories of Life

Torchwood: The Categories of Life
(1 episode, s04e05, 2011)

Timestamp TW36 The Categories of Life

Miracles breed atrocities.

In Washington, D.C., Vera Juarez is told that the medical panels have ended. A report has been submitted to Congress and the new categories of life have been enacted. People in Categories 1 and 2 are sent to the new overflow camps. Vera is upset about these three categories and the government’s control, so she calls Rex and declares that she is part of his investigation efforts.

Gwen returns to the United Kingdom under the alias of Yvonne Pallister. She reunites with her family and finds her mother tracking her father’s whereabouts. He’s located at the Cowbridge Camp in an abandoned army barracks, and Gwen travels with Rhys and Andy Davidson to the site. The area is flooded with people demanding the release of their loved ones. Gwen is directed to the admin building where she gets roadblocked by military officer in charge. The site is under lockdown while all of the occupants are sorted into categories. Gwen storms out, intent on breaking her father out that night.

Back in Venice Beach, Esther confides her feelings of inadequacy to Jack. Their discussion is interrupted by a text from Rex summoning them back. They meet Vera and get her settled. Soon after, the team converges in the makeshift “hub” to review their data. Jack officially welcomes Vera to Torchwood and then introduces the categories.

Category 1 consists of people who should have died before the Miracle. Category 3 is all of the perfectly healthy people. Category 2 the wide swath of people in the middle. The world governments now have the ability to determine who is alive or “dead”, and PhiCorp is behind it. Esther reveals her research into the PhiCorp camps and the possibility that PhiCorp is doing something horrific to the Category 1s.

Gwen goes undercover at Cowbridge as a nurse. Vera and Esther join the staff at San Pedro and Rex volunteers to be taken away as a patient. The “fragile mortal man” Jack is left behind, so he decides to attend the Oswald Danes rally in Los Angeles.

At the San Pedro camp, Rex is designated as Category 2. Vera and Esther settle into their undercover positions, including a hefty dose of overt sexism from camp supervisor Colin Maloney. As Vera begins her inspection, Esther reclassifies Rex as Category 1 and smuggles a camera to him. Rex is moved to the appropriate module where he discovers it to be a dark and cold space with patients stacked on metal racks. He finds some clothes and leaves the module.

Vera breaks away from the normal tour route to find a building full of patients without insurance. They are living in filth and squalor, and one of the patients has been wrongly categorized. Vera threatens to prosecute Maloney. He retaliates by stealing his military escort’s sidearm and shooting Vera twice. The two men take Vera to a Category 1 module and leave her barely conscious on the floor.

At the Cowbridge camp, Rhys and Gwen begin their quest to find Gwen’s father. Gwen finds her father and tries to extract him, but he collapses just before reaching the truck. When Gwen calls for help, her father ends up being reclassified as Category 1 because he fell unconscious.

At the Miracle Rally, Jack lures Oswald away. When Oswald can’t find Jack, he returns to the staging area before the rally begins. Jilly meets a mysterious stranger who tells her that she’s doing well and getting noticed by important people. Jack eventually confronts Oswald, tempting him to become the hero of the story instead of a PhiCorp mascot. Jack presents Oswald with a new speech that will expose the truth. In exchange, Jack offers Oswald an end to the Miracle and a pathway to death.

Oswald takes the stage and follows his heart instead of the scripts. He declares that those who have survived the Miracle are the first angels on Earth. His revelation, an endorsement of PhiCorp, is greeted by an arena of cheering fans.

Rex notes that the Category 1 area is only three small modules, and therefore is unable to house all of the appropriate patients. While Rex watches, Vera wakes up and Maloney starts a process that seals the building. Each module is a crematorium. Rex watches as Vera is burned alive, reduced to ashes.

Rhys and Gwen make a similar discovery in Wales. Gwen can only look on in horror.


In a brutal upswing from the previous episode, this entry was tense and thrilling. It leveraged each character’s strengths and circumstances to drive further into the heart of the plot. It also uncovered barbaric horrors and was unflinching in its portrayal.

It was disturbing but engaging.

What is particularly interesting is the apparent recycling of circumstances from the previous season. Vera’s fate parallels that of Owen Harper, another medical professional. Both were locked into a state between life and death, though Owen was undead while Vera was undying. Both were suffering from gunshot wounds and both were disintegrated while trying to save innocent people. Both of them also had love interests — Rex and Tosh — each with mortal chest wounds who witnessed their deaths through the lens of electronic devices.

The major differences were that Rex survived the encounter and Tosh wasn’t physically present at Owen’s death.

This recycling aside, which I found to be more fascinating than distracting, this hour of television was good.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: The Middle Men

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW35: Escape to L.A.

Torchwood: Escape to L.A.
(1 episode, s04e04, 2011)

Timestamp TW35 Escape to LA

Assassins and espionage try to cover for a lack of story.

Despite Gwen’s warnings, Esther decides to visit her sister Sarah. The house is boarded up and the door is guarded by a series of locks, but Sarah is at home. Sarah warns Esther that people are looking for her, warning her away from major metropolitan areas like Boston and New York City. Sarah rejects Esther’s comfort and concern about Sarah’s children. Esther promises to return as soon as she can.

When Esther returns to her car, she calls Child Protective Services to help the kids. Esther leaves, unaware of the car following her on orders from their mysterious antagonists.

The Torchwood team travels to Los Angeles, California. Jack gazes upon the Pacific Ocean, musing that he hasn’t seen it for about seventy years. They’re looking for PhiCorp, and despite Gwen’s desire to stay on the sand in the sun, Jack decides to look for a temporary headquarters elsewhere.

Rex finds a flyer for Dead is Dead and calls Vera. The campaign is being spearheaded by Ellis Hartley Monroe on the premise that those who should have died are to be treated as if they are dead, merely waiting for their “pause” in mortality to end. In contrast, Doctor Juarez and the medical panel are looking at an abandoned hospital as an overflow for ICU patients.

Jack secures a hideout and Gwen phones Rhys to check in while Rex wonders if Jack’s goal is to turn everyone he meets gay. Jack quips that it is the plan. The team starts to settle in, tracing the threads on Oswald, Jilly, and PhiCorp.

Elsewhere, Jilly and Oswald continue their public relations campaign. Oswald is enjoying the perks of fancy hotels, but while she remains professional, Jilly can’t stand Oswald’s history. She also brings news that Oswald’s appearance that day has been cancelled in lieu of Ellis Hartley Monroe. Oswald is in danger of being kicked to the curb and into the hands of the waiting mob.

Rex decides to find his father, who is now a thief stealing PhiCorp drugs. The reunion is testy, but in the end Rex ends up with another box of pills.

Later, Esther briefs the team on PhiCorp’s secure server and her plan to exchange it for an empty duplicate. Access is restricted to the biometrics of Nicholas Frumkin. To secure his biodata, Jack and Gwen go undercover Mission: Impossible-style as an annoying American couple.

The new hospital under Vera Juarez’s management is failing miserably. There are no protocols, no electricity, and people just being deposited without permission. Regardless, Monroe stages a Dead is Dead rally outside, which is where Oswald was going to hold a public event. Oswald decides to enter the hospital, drawing media attention as he boldly states that he’s not scared of the people inside. He reinvents himself as the spokesman and advocate — perhaps, even a messiah — for them. Monroe departs in anger, being poisoned on the way by the antagonists.

One of those agents, posing as Torchwood, ambushes Frumkin in a parking garage. The agent secures the biometrics by force, including mutilating him for his eye scan and handprint. Frumkin lives through the torture courtesy of the Miracle.

Gwen goes undercover as Yvonne Pallister, International Sales Representative at PhiCorp. She’s backed up by Esther, posing as Lorraine in Human Resources, and Jack as a delivery worker. The team stages a fire to evacuate the building and uses the biometrics to enter the server room.

As the operation kicks off, Esther discovers that Sarah has been detained for psychological evaluation and her kids are in the system. Rex realizes that someone may have follower Esther during her ill-advised trip and berates her while she works. While Esther balances Rex and Gwen, Gwen is attacked by the bad agent. Jack tries to assist but is knocked out as well. Rex rushes to the rescue, having to climb the stairs all the way with his chest wound, while the assassin monologues to Jack.

The assassin says that the reason Jack is mortal is because of something that happened many years ago. Apparently, Jack caused all this, and the moment has come as they have found “specific geography”. Just as he is about to reveal his employers, Rex comes in guns-a-blazing. The assassin collapses against the wall as Rex demands thanks for saving their lives.

Monroe awakens inside a car that is in a compactor. The poison should have killed her but she was saved by the Miracle. The triangle pattern appears on the car’s screen and a voice apologizes for what is about to happen. They liked her style and acknowledge that they could have been friends, but her methods were exposing their plan. As the voice promises that the “families” will rise, the car is compacted. Monroe’s shattered remains still live in the metal prison.

Back at their base, the Torchwood team discovers the plans for the overflow camps. Unfortunately, Rhys has already schedule Gwen’s father for one of the camps. Rhys is too late to stop the transfer.

Gwen’s father now belongs to PhiCorp.


Torchwood stumbled here with a mediocre story with quite a bit of padding. Getting the team to Los Angeles to pursue PhiCorp was good, as was the spy story to access and swap out the secure server. Adding the assassin to the plot was a great foil and served well to push the antagonists into the spotlight alongside the Oswald Danes story.

It was good to see that Jilly has some semblance of a soul, merely tolerating Oswald to serve her employers. It was also good to see the concentration camp narrative threads continued, as well as seeing Oswald chasing the spotlight to remain relevant.

The points where the story lost pacing were with the family tangents for Esther and Rex. The Esther tangent was tolerable, even though it could have been easily skipped over in exchange for a shorter way for the assassin to track the team, but the Rex tangent was pointless. The parallel between Gwen’s and Esther’s phone usage was important to note, but I think it would have been more powerful if the phone was how Esther was traced instead of by burning precious minutes talking through a barricaded door.

It feels like a lot of missed opportunities were swaddled in unnecessary drama, and the pacing established in the first three episodes was sacrificed in the process.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: The Categories of Life

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #TW34: Dead of Night

Torchwood: Dead of Night
(1 episode, s04e03, 2011)

Timestamp TW34 Dead of Night

The people of Earth have nothing and everything to lose.

Late at night, Brian Friedkin finds that his television is not only turned on, but that it’s also tuned to an Oswald Danes interview. When he switches it off, he is confronted at gunpoint by Rex. The agent is angry that the CIA is poisoned against him. Friedkin explains that his mysterious bosses have been around for decades and communicate on a single phone.

Rex secures the phone and rushes out to a car where Jack is waiting. Esther is on comms and Gwen is standing by with a spike strip to disable police pursuit. The raid is a victory.

Sometime later, Gwen watches a parade of masked people – the Soulless – who believe that the Miracle has robbed people of their souls. Gwen is both shocked and confused. She takes her groceries back to the hideout but laments that all she could find are bags of crisps.

Or chips, as she’s corrected by her new American comrades.

Jack informs Gwen that Rhys and Anwen are in a safe house under Andy Davidson’s protection. Gen worries about emptying Jack’s bank account, but Jack doesn’t think that it’s possible. He’s been gathering interest there for 109 years. Esther and Rex reveal they cannot trace the phone since the signal branches out repeatedly to prevent it.

The American members of this new Torchwood aren’t quite used to how Jack and Gwen operate. Jack decides that they should investigate the morphic fields since he feels a universal consciousness driving the world’s immortality. Esther finds out that Friedkin has blocked off a warehouse in Washington, DC, prompting the team to steal a car. After Gwen’s blunt approach (and Rex’s thievery of their victim’s dry cleaning), they’re on the road to the warehouse.

Gwen concusses the guard. Jack, Rex, and Gwen break in to find shelves upon shelves of non-narcotic painkillers. All of them are from PhiCorp. The warehouse is stuffed to the gills with the pills.

At the emergency panel meetings, the doctors realize that aborted pregnancies and miscarriages are impossible, and some countries are considering contraceptives in water supplies. Vera is also perplexed by the new definition of murder since people can’t die but the motivations to kill still remain. Later on, Jilly Kitzinger convinces Vera to visit PhiCorp.

Jack believes that the team needs to take on PhiCorp, so Rex leverages his CIA contacts for resources and allies. He discovers that his contacts are ready to betray him, so the team is on their own. A frustrated Rex argues that Torchwood is dead and that Jack got his team killed. Rex takes the car and leaves Jack, Gwen, and Esther standing in an alley.

On the way back to the base, Jack finds a bar and leaves the ladies to get a drink. Esther contemplates turning herself in because she’s not cut out for the Torchwood life. Gwen convinces her otherwise and they keep walking. Meanwhile, Jack gets his drink – a bowl on the bar is full of sobriety chips – and a companion for the night with bartender Brad. Of course, since a lifetime of regret just got a lot longer, Jack wants his encounter to have protection.

Vera returns home to find Rex asking her to dress his wound again. He collapses and she tends to him. They end up having sex despite both of them being exhausted. Afterward, they discuss PhiCorp’s connection to the Miracle. Vera explains her regret at letting her mother die a year ago, the tells Rex about Jilly’s offer. Rex asks Vera to spy on PhiCorp, but he botches the request.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Oswald Danes sneaks away from his protective custody to enjoy a slice of pie at a local diner. A couple ambushes him and is sent home by the police, but the officers take the matter into their own hands by beating him before dumping him at his motel. Jilly approaches him one more time, and this time he takes her up on the offer.

Jack calls Gwen and has a long discussion about their relationship and Torchwood. The call is interrupted by Esther, who has established a secure video connection to Rhys and Anwen.

Come the morning, the team gets back together. Vera agrees to be their eyes in PhiCorp, so Gwen introduces Rex to the Eye-5s. She also lies by telling him that the lenses are isomorphic and tuned to her biology. Everyone but Rex knows that she’s fibbing.

When Vera arrives at PhiCorp, she finds an auditorium full of medical professionals. Vera meets Gwen, who proceeds to Jilly’s office while Vera keeps Jilly distracted. Gwen spots Jilly escorting Oswald to a special meeting which piques Jack’s interest. As the main presentation commences, Vera broadcasts it on speakerphone to Torchwood.

The presentation is a video by a United States Senator who is pushing legislation to make all medicines prescription-free. Jilly leaves the auditorium and almost finds Gwen in her office, but Rex is able to pull Jilly away through Vera. Rex and Esther are surprised when the strange red phone rings, but the phone shuts off without a word when Rex answers it.

Rex and Esther pack up the operation as Jack sneaks away to meet Oswald Danes. At gunpoint, he asks Oswald why he met with PhiCorp and if they mentioned the name Jack Harkness. When Oswald would talk about it, Jack switches to his burning question: Why did Oswald lie about feeling forgiven?

Oswald exposes his most repugnant sociopathic self, praising his motivations for killing the young girl because she flaunted her innocence. She bruised so easily that Oswald imagined that he was “painting” her with each strike. He felt ecstasy as her life force drained away.

Jack recorded the entire conversation and threatens to publish it, but Oswald calls in the protection that he arranged from PhiCorp to seize it. Jack knows that Oswald’s life will never reach the high of murdering Susie Cabina, so now the murderer and rapist wants it to end on that high. The hired goons beat Jack and toss him on the street while Oswald attends to his interview.

Oswald endorses PhiCorp. He asks the world to join him as he offers solace in the storm.

Jack can only watch in disgust as Oswald Danes wraps the planet Earth around his finger.


The story continues to develop as the world’s sense of order has dismantled by the chaos of immortality. In a land of such confusion, people seek stability and PhiCorp is offering it in spades. What could make this even worse? Using a complete sociopath with absolutely nothing to lose as the messiah of this movement.

Oswald’s revelations about his despicable acts were chilling. He enjoyed the atrocity. He’s a sick and dangerous man.

There wasn’t much development for Gwen and Jack, but Esther’s decision to dig deep and stay the course after Gwen’s pep-talk was a great bit of growth for the CIA analyst. Despite the lack of character development, the story advancement was superb. I’d expect nothing less from writer Jane Espenson.

I wasn’t quite sure if Jack was being sarcastic about the warehouse being “bigger on the inside”. We’ll have to wait and see if dimensionally transcendental technology is in play.

Finally, there was a lot of sex in this episode. The fascinating angle was how it was treated in various broadcasts. The United States, Canadian, and Australian markets had no problem showing the scenes, but the UK took a different approach by editing Jack’s encounter and completely excising the scenes between Rex and Vera.

It was also the first time in Doctor Who history that a woman’s bare butt was seen on screen. It had to happen on Torchwood, didn’t it?

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: Escape to L.A.

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.